Meals on Wheels programs across the country received some good news out of Washington, D.C., recently when Congress passed with bipartisan support a bill that restores federal funding for home-delivered meals. The bill restores federal funding to the level it was at before across-the-board sequestration cuts took hold in March of 2013.
So what does this mean for local Meals on Wheels programs? It brings relief to the handful of Metro Meals on Wheels member programs in Hennepin County that rely partially on the federal program, at least preliminarily. A state agency ultimately decides how money received from the federal Older Americans Act is allocated and it’s a good sign that there will be more money available for home-delivered meals. Several Meals on Wheels programs ran out of federal funding toward the end of 2013.
“For our Meals on Wheels programs that rely on federal funding to defray the cost of delivering meals to the people who need them most, this is a big step in the right direction,” said Metro Meals on Wheels Executive Director Patrick Rowan. “We’re thankful that Congress recognizes the importance of services that help seniors live independently at home and hopeful that this investment continues. We’d like to thank the members of our local delegation, including Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Betty McCollum, who worked hard to get this funding restored.”
This bill approves funding through September 2014, when again funding for home-delivered meals, and the federal budget as a whole, will be up for debate. While the funding restoration comes as welcome news, local Meals on Wheels programs that rely on it will still face challenges in serving seniors most in need of financial assistance.
“We’re very happy that funding has been restored, but it’s important to note that federal funding for home-delivered meals has remained flat for 12 years while the senior population continues to grow,” said Rowan.
For more information, you can read this statement from the Meals on Wheels Association of America.